As charitable fundraisers come and go, some leave behind more lasting memories than others.
A fundraiser scheduled for the night of March 9 at the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce fairgrounds figures to remain in some peoples’ memories for a long time. Called the “Lucky Dog and Cool Cat Gala,” the event is designed to raise money for The Animal Shelter of Texas County.
The night’s main attraction will be a concert by independent country recording artist Candy Coburn, who will bring her signature green guitar and energetic style to the community building stage for a full-length show.
Coburn’s appearance in Houston became possible when TASTC representatives attended her New Year’s Eve concert at the Lake of the Ozarks. Conversations took place and one thing led to another, and Coburn was soon making plans to do a show in support of the shelter.
“I had never heard of the shelter,” she said. “Then when I looked into it, I was amazed at the great things they’ve done — especially being in an area the size that it’s in.
“When they asked me to be part of a fundraising event, I was all in.”
Performing for and otherwise helping out charitable causes is something Coburn is relatively used to. She has strong connections with the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and even wrote a song — “Pink Warrior” — that has become the well-known breast cancer organization’s theme song. All proceeds from the song benefit the Foundation.
Coburn has also worked with the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), St. Jude, the American Cancer Society, and others.
“I wish I could do even more charitable work every year,” she said, “but obviously I have employees and bills to pay. I’ve done work with tons of organizations, and we like to do anything we can to help with any charitable event we can.”
Coburn plugged her upcoming performance in Houston on a Springfield television station Jan. 30, during an appearance on KOZL-TV’s “Ozarks Live” program. As well as playing two songs during her segments on the show, she spoke about her connection to TASTC and the Gala fundraiser, and promised that the Houston show would be an all-out, raucous affair.
“It will be with a full band and as loud as can be,” Coburn said.
Currently a resident of the Springfield area, Coburn was born in western Kentucky, but then attended high school in the Missouri boot heel town of Dexter. She has also spent time living in Texas, where her father resides.
Living with her grandmother during her childhood, Coburn grew up listening to old-time country and gospel music. She eventually grew to love country music and attended the University of Missouri on a music scholarship, eventually earning a theater degree.
Having been performing and recording full time for about six years, Coburn is currently experiencing her biggest success. While some of her songs have in the past been listed on regional charts in Texas, her first nationally released single, “Don’t Walk Away,” is No. 81 on this week’s Music Row top 100 country chart, and her album release “Lucky” is also gaining notoriety.
Coburn doesn’t take her present situation for granted.
“I used to have many day jobs,” she said. “I started at the bottom of nowhere, and worked up from playing in the most disgusting places in the world and traveling in a Pathfinder with a U-Haul trailer. Now I’m in a full-size bus with a full-size trailer, and I’ve got a full-time band and a big, fat payroll.
“You name it, I’ve done it — and I feel blessed to be where I am now.”
Describing herself as more of a rocker than a traditional country crooner, Coburn has her own record label she calls Loma Jean Records, named after one of her grandmothers.
“She taught me to sing from birth, and is still singing every Sunday down in Louisiana,” Coburn said.
While she hasn’t yet signed on with a big recording label, Coburn has several major sponsors, including Anheuser-Busch and Texas Road House. She performs in about 30 different states each year, playing at many large venues such as the Missouri State Fair. She has shared the stage with Brooks and Dunn, Blake Shelton, Josh Turner, and other famous acts, and has played before gigantic crowds at a NASCAR Race in Charlotte, N.C., and the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
“I’m not a household name,” Coburn said, “but I love my job and I’ve done it in a way I’m proud of. We’re still building one place at a time and one fan at a time.”
For many years, Coburn had difficulty answering when people would ask how she would describe her own style. Then in a newspaper article written about her, the writer said her style was like where “Janis Joplin meets Garth Brooks.”
“I was like, I’ll take that and use it all day long,” Coburn said. “I love both of them, and my goal throughout my career has never been to be vocalist of the year. I realize there are a lot of people who can out-sing me, but being entertainer of the year is at the top of my list.
“I want to compete with male acts, like Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban, and have a show that gives people who buy a ticket something different than they get on a record.”
Coburn said people who attend the Gala in Houston will witness that difference.
“You’ll hear all kinds of stuff at our show,” she said. “What I often hear from people who see my shows is, ‘I don’t like country, but I love what you do.’ We have a lot of loud guitars and we get rocking, but you’re also going to hear some redone Johnny Cash, or things like that.
“You never know what you’re going to hear when we play, but that’s what we try to do – bring something in that everyone can relate to.”
TASTC stages a Lucky Dog and Cool Cat Gala every other year, and this is the third installment of the event. In addition to Coburn, this year’s version will feature other entertainment, including a performance by the Miles from Nowhere Band, out of Plato.
Local radio personalities Harold Wiggs and Harlan Hutcheson will share master of ceremonies duties, and plans include a silent auction (with several upscale items, including a trip to Treasure Lake in Branson), $500 worth of lottery tickets being given away, and a dinner catered by Raymondville’s Two Good Cooks.
Following the event, a meet-and-greet session will take place at Miller’s Grill (on U.S. Highway 63 south of Houston), where fans can meet Coburn and her band members face to face.
All proceeds from the Gala will benefit TASTC, a non-profit organization that exists solely on fundraising and donations.
“I really appreciate people in small towns putting in the time and effort to have shows like this,” Coburn said. “As a girl who grew up in a smaller town, I really encourage the community to come out and support events like this, because it’s important for people to have access to the arts, and the only way you’ll continue to have them is if you support them. It’s also important to support things in your community that you can be proud of, like the animal shelter.
“This event is for a great cause and it’s going to be a great time. It supports the community you live in, and that always trickles over into other things.”
While TASTC has covered most of Gala’s up-front expenses, Coburn’s appearance is sponsored by the Ozarks Radio Network, which footed a significant portion of the bill necessary to bring her entire band here.
Prior to her performance in Houston, Coburn will be at NASCAR’s season-opening Daytona 500 in Florida, performing and signing autographs at the United States Air Force display booth, in the Midway area outside of Daytona International Speedway’s turn 4.
Tickets cost $50 and can be purchased at the shelter, about amile east of Houston on Highway 17, or at Romines Motor on SamHouston Blvd. Event organizers indicate that only 300 tickets willbe available, so they recommend not waiting until the lastminute.
For more information, call 417-967-0700.
I want to compete with those male acts, like Kenny Chesney andKeith Urban, and have a show that gives people who buy a ticketsomething different than they get on a record.”